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Pharma news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news in brief

Big price tag for Myogen
Gilead has made a bid for Myogen, worth around $2.5bn, in an offer that has been unanimously recommended by the Myogen board. Under the deal, Gilead is offering $52.50 per share, which amounts to a 50 per cent premium over Myogen's closing price on September 29. The deal gives Gilead, a leader in HIV drugs, access to Myogen's pipeline of late-stage cardiovascular products.

Call to arms from EFPIA
The research-based pharmaceutical industry can make a key contribution to improving health, growth and jobs in Europe, according to Brian Ager, Director General of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Addressing the European Parliament's Kangaroo Group debate on Investing in Health and Innovation for the Future, Ager said: ìBy investing massively in R&D, our industry represents society's best hope to fight, defeat and eventually eradicate a wide range of life-threatening diseases that affect Europe's ageing populations.î However, he added that the key challenge is to restore Europe's competitiveness in the pharmaceutical sector. ìConcrete actions are needed, and they are needed now,î he asserted. The emphasis of the meeting was to maintain the balance between industrial and public health objectives.

It comes in the wake of a speech given by Nigel Brooksby, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), at the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology conference, where he highlighted the need for a renewed level of trust between the pharmaceutical industry, the government and patients in the UK. Brooksby said that a greater level of trust must be established or the cost would be the failure to convert scientific innovation into saved lives.

Vasella courts controversy
Novartis chief executive, Daniel Vasella, has warned that there is no economically sustainable model to provide low-cost innovative medicines to the developing world. His comments came as he unveiled that Novartis will experience further losses on a pioneering malaria drug, Coartem, the production of which the company is being forced to subsidise by more than Ä8m (£5m) each year in order to increase production capacity. His words will strike a chord with pharma companies and governments around the world which are keen to develop drugs and vaccines for disease in developing countries where money to pay for the treatments is limited. Vasella said that if governments wanted pharma to continue to systematically invest in producing drugs for the developing world then a different model would have to be established.

Prix Galien winners
GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis have both won an internationally recognised award for innovative medicines, the Prix Galien, for rotavirus gastro-enteritis vaccine, Rotarix, and asthma drug, Xolair, respectively. Meanwhile, Genzyme won a special Gold Medal award for Myozyme, an orphan drug to treat Pompe disease, a debilitating and often fatal neuromuscular disorder. Founded in 1969, the Prix Galien was established to recognise the pharma industry's outstanding achievement in the evolution of medicines.

30th September 2008


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